Skype has finally added the one feature that makes Google Hangouts so much easier to use: shareable chat links.
This means you can now use Skype to chat with anyone, not just the people in your contact list. To get started, download the new versions of Skype now: Windows and Mac. Skype for mobile devices currently doesn’t have the ability to start a conversation and share a link, though Microsoft is working on that.
Once you’ve updated, click the +New button, and invite anyone to join a Skype chat by sharing the unique link. Because it’s just a hyperlink, you can send it over email, Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, and so on.
By clicking on the link, anyone can join a conversation from Skype for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or even Skype for Web. The only drawback is that links are only available in the U.S. and in the U.K., for now.
Anyone can join the chat as a guest from their computer, even if they don’t have Skype installed. Skype for Web supports instant messaging, voice, and video calls.
A link is really all you need — no Skype account or app download required. That said, while the link initially takes you to Skype for Web, if you have Skype installed, the dedicated app will open on your computer or mobile device.
The biggest limitation is of course the gradual rollout, which is likely aligned with Skype for Web’s staggered debut. Microsoft says “the rest of the world” will be getting shareable links “over the next couple of weeks.”
That means that by the end of the year, Skype will finally be as easy to use as Google Hangouts is. You’ll no longer need to manually add contacts and then start a chat with them. Just create a link and send it to whoever you want to talk to.
We’re frankly surprised it took Skype this long to catch up.